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Issue Brief III: The Developing Military Alliance in North-East Asia; By Subramaniyam Sridharan

Image Courtesy: Breaking Defence

Issue Brief 3/2024

C3S launched its Issue Brief initiative. An issue brief is a summary of the knowledge surrounding an issue or a problem. It summarizes the issue by giving clear, concise, and complete information describing all facets of a particular issue including a detailed illustration in the form of images, data, and facts. It also includes recommendations for action and predictions on the future course of an issue.


With hotspots of conflict in Europe and West Asia, the world is hoping that no new conflicts develop anywhere, especially in Asia which has the largest concentration of recognized and rogue nuclear weapon states. Asia, especially the East, has the largest number of irredentist disputes too. China’s coercive diplomacy in North East Asia, directly by itself and indirectly through its client-state North Korea, is giving rise to a strategic alignment between Japan and South Korea. There is a recognition that the unrestrained and despotic North Korean dictator can single-handedly spark a war. This trilateral alignment therefore has been cemented by the US through its mediatory efforts between Japan and South Korea to overcome their historical irritants and misgivings. Understandably, the three stakeholders are underplaying the emergence of the as-yet un-announced military trilateral. While ostensibly against a rampaging North Korea, there is no gainsaying the fact that it will be useful against China too as increasingly China-North Korea is looked at as a single entity. This alliance is the military cutting edge among all the groupings that are developing in the Indo-Pacific region because it is the closest to the scene of action, it involves three of the largest and powerful nations economically and militarily in the word and is preparing itself for contingencies involving nuclear exchanges. While massively militarizing their own armed forces, both Japan and South Korea are unmistakably getting integrated into the NATO alliance, especially in the last couple of years. Simultaneously, the profile of integration of the armed forces of Japan and South Korea’s within the command and control structure of the US, has gone up several notches too. The frequency and complexity of joint trilateral military exercises among them have gone up significantly.  Eerily, the developments closely resemble the late 19th and early 20th century political-cum-military situation in this region premised on civilizational enmity, security dilemmas, opportunism, and global ambitions. This Issue Brief decodes all these developments.

Read the full Issue Brief at this link:

Issue Brief III
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(Mr.Subramanyam Sridharan is a Distinguished Member of C3S. The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the views of C3S.)

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